This is part of an on-going series on the Minor Prophets; a bible study I wrote two years ago. For more information on this study, including permission to use it for your own group, please read the introduction.
We continue with Section 4 – Malachi 2:17-3:5
KEY VERSE: “You have wearied the LORD with your words.” (verse 17)
We can actually WEARY God by not trusting his justice. Our complaints show a lack of trust. Also, it’s not enough to trust his ABILITY to bring justice. It’s important that I also trust his timing.
God says SOMETHING IS COMING. We might never see it fulfilled but there is a PLAN – for good, for justice, for bringing purity and true worship. Truly trusting him means trusting in his plan when things around me don’t look the way I think they’re supposed to. It means trusting that he is GOOD and that he has the POWER to do all the good things he has planned. It means trusting his TIMING – that he will do the things he has planned at precisely the right time. He is never late. (Check out II Peter 3:3-10 for more thoughts on God’s timing).
- What does it look like to trust God’s timing?
- How would your life be different if you trusted his timing more?
Section 5 – Malachi 3:6-12
KEY VERSE: “How do we rob you?’ ‘In tithes and offerings’” (verse 8)
God says if we return to him, he’ll return to us. Then he tells us HOW to return! (It’s always nice to have the instruction manual). He says it’s pretty simple, really – just stop robbing God.
Tithing is a practice of regularly, consistently, putting God first. It is a way you can concretely say that God comes first – of putting your money where your mouth is! Choosing not to tithe is withholding something from God that belongs to him. When we give freely to him, however, he is pretty good at out-giving us! It’s not just about money, either. Biblical tithing was giving to God the first portion of all your resources. Your resources might include time, money, energy, talents, skills… I believe that giving to God financially is very important, but giving him just money isn’t the heart of tithing. (Have a look at Matthew 23:23 for Jesus’ words on tithing).
- What is something you can give to God in a regular/consistent way in order to show that you put him first?
KEY VERSE: “You have said harsh things against me” (verse 13)
God’s people were saying that there was no point serving God – it didn’t get them anywhere. When God hears their mutterings, he feels hard done by. Their words are unfair. God DOES remember those who are faithful. He sees what’s going on – he’s not blind. Whether the faithful receive immediate recompense or not, God SEES. One day we’ll see that he DOES make a distinction between men, based on their hearts and deeds. God WILL vindicate the righteous. At the very end, when everything is counted up, we will see that everything God has done has been just and fair. Every person will be given true justice. No matter what happens from now until I see him face to face, I can trust that promise.
KEY VERSE: “Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard.” (verse 16)
Unity among God’s people grabs his attention. I don’t know exactly how or why, but there is something powerful about coming together to seek God. Psalm 133, Matthew 18:20 and Ephesians 4:3 are just a few places that hint at the power and importance of unity among God’s people. I tend to think about gathering together as something that’s good for us – that it helps us when we spend time together. While this is clearly true, the bible indicates that there is something more to it – that when we work together, share together, pray together, we actually affect God.
- Describe a time you felt discouraged in your faith – felt that your energy spent serving God was wasted.
- What truths about God can you use to encourage yourself in such times? Things you PERSONALLY know to be true.
- What does God’s promise for FAIRNESS and JUSTICE mean to you?
- Think of ways you gather together with other believers – talking together, praying together, seeking together.
- How can you stir up more of this sort of gathering (that strengthens people and affects God) in your life?